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  • Common Thread: Talk. A Crafts Council x Creative Debuts project held in 2018. Photo: Francis Augusto

We believe in an inclusive craft sector

We believe that craft skills and knowledge enrich and uplift us as individuals, and, in doing so, will change our world for the better. Diversity of all kinds enriches creative practice and we recognise the moral, economic, and social reasons to make diversity, inclusion and equality central to our work. 

Our ambition is to achieve greater equality across our work with a focus on race, disability, and socio-economic background through testing new ways of working, building partnerships with new groups and individuals, and improved recruitment and training of our staff.

Our starting point is a clear policy and action plan. These match statutory and funding obligations, including the Arts Council’s Creativity Case for Diversity, with practical steps to improve our  programming and organisation.

We want to do this work well, drawing on expertise and testing our ideas to ensure that it is relevant, meaningful and appropriate to our audiences and partners. This means that progress is slow and steady – enabling us to embed what works rather than ticking a box. Some of our actions have been successful and others need more thinking through. As we develop better ways of being more inclusive and accessible, we shall share this with the craft sector. Working with the Craft UK network we will collaborate to identify and implement further positive action to make craft a supportive, vibrant and diverse sector.

This work is championed by our Board and each member of Crafts Council staff has regularly monitored personal objectives. A cross-team of Diversity Champions debate key issues, shape activity and challenge us all.

Our plan is based on five objectives:

1. We embed diversity in our creative programmes

Common Thread celebrated African-Caribbean identity and culture through craft, design, and art during a summer exhibition of 25 emerging artists and a panel discussion held as part of Black History Month. Working with Creative Debuts and Dazed Media, Crafts Council built relationships with young BAME makers and creatives - linking them to our long-standing programmes.

2. We provide support makers from diverse backgrounds

For our talent development programme, Hothouse, we introduced a guaranteed interview scheme for BAME and disabled makers who met the core criteria. Improved recruitment and application processes resulting in cohorts being more representative of the UK population, with 7% of selected participants identifying as disabled and 17% as BAME (compared to 13.5% combining Disability and BAME data for the previous intake. More work is to be done to increase this, but we have extended the guaranteed interview scheme to other open call programmes.

3. We remove any barriers to involvement in our work

We provide easy-read resources for all our exhibition interpretation materials and have produced accessible versions of our Craft Club resources.

We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and we seek to recruit, develop and retain a team fully representative of the diverse community we work with.  We fully support Access to Work applications and are committed to making reasonable adjustments to ensure interview candidates and staff can perform to the best of their abilities.  We are committed to paying all staff the London Living Wage.

4. We ensure there is money and staff time to deliver this work

We have worked in partnership with Shades of Noir to deliver three days of training to all staff focussing on overcoming unconscious bias.  Budgets for programmes and organisation infrastructure are dedicated to enable us to make changes in our practice. These can cover costs for interpreting our films or providing additional travel costs to attend workshops.

5. We promote diversity to the craft sector, sharing our learning and knowledge

Our research partnerships in two Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) focusing on diversity and inclusion have continued.

‘Diversity in Craft’ PhD with Kingston University (Nicola Dillon) – is at the early stages and aims to explore the idea of craft and making in diaspora communities living in the UK, questioning and redefining current understandings of craft practice.

‘Supporting diversity in craft practice through digital technology skills development’, a collaboration with Birmingham City University, aims to provide insights into the experiences of BAME makers. Dr Karen Patel is exploring how social media and digital technology can support skills development and entrepreneurship in craft. Read more here

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